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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — SpaceX’s astronaut-riding Dragon capsule approached the International Space Station on Sunday, just hours after a historic liftoff from Florida.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken reported that the capsule was performing beautifully, as they closed in for the docking.

The gleaming white capsule was easily visible from the station, its nose cone open exposing its docking hook, as the two spacecraft zoomed a few miles apart above the Atlantic, then Africa, then Asia.

It’s the first time a privately built and owned spacecraft is carrying crew to the orbiting lab. Hurley, the Dragon’s commander, prepared to take manual control for a brief test, then shift the capsule into automatic for the linkup, 19 hours after liftoff.

In case of a problem, the astronauts slipped back into their pressurized launch suits for the docking. The three space station residents trained cameras on the incoming capsule for flight controllers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, as well as NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

SpaceX launched the Dragon from Kennedy Space Center on Saturday afternoon, the first astronaut launch to orbit from the U.S. in nearly a decade. Thousands jammed surrounding beaches, bridges and towns to watch as Elon Musk’s company ended a nine-year launch drought for NASA in spectacular fashion.

SpaceX and NASA officials were holding off on any celebrations until after Sunday’s docking — and possibly not until the two astronauts are back on Earth sometime this summer.

In a show-and-tell earlier Sunday morning, the astronauts gave a quick tour of the Dragon’s sparkling clean insides, quite spacious for a capsule. They said the liftoff was pretty bumpy and dynamic, nothing the simulators could have mimicked.

The blue sequined dinosaur accompanying them — their young sons’ toy, named Tremor — was also in good shape, Behnken assured viewers. Tremor was going to join Earthy, a plush globe delivered on last year’s test flight of a crew-less crew Dragon. Behnken said both toys would return to Earth with them at mission’s end.

NASA has yet to decide how long Hurley and Behnken will spend at the space station, somewhere between one and four months. While they’re there, the Dragon test pilots will join the one U.S. and two Russian space station residents, doing experiments and possibly spacewalks to install fresh station batteries.


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The management of the pandemic, among the criticisms of Arce’s speech in Bolivia

La Paz, Jan 22 (EFE) .- The management of the pandemic has been one of the points that Bolivian opponents have criticized the most in the speech made this Friday by the president of Bolivia, Luis Arce, on the occasion of the eleventh Day of the State Plurinational in the country. Arce’s words have focused on criticizing the management of his predecessor, former interim president Jeanine Áñez, the “reconquest of democracy”, the pandemic and the country’s economy. “If Mr. Arce worked both on the pandemic and the effort he makes to attack me, Bolivia would win. In 2020 we stopped the pandemic: we dropped to 48 infections a day. That is achieved with work. Not with hatred,” was Áñez’s response on Twitter to the signals of Arce. Bolivia has been going through the second wave of covid-19 since the end of last year with days of more than 2,500 daily infections, something that exceeds the first peak that occurred in the country in July and August, something that so far has left 9,818 deaths and 196,393 infections confirmed from the previous management framework. “It questions its own legitimacy”, “it provides negative management report (the) previous one”, in addition, “it promises vaccines that do not have an arrival date”, were the criticisms of ex-president Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga on Twitter at Arce’s speech. Quiroga was appointed by the transitional government of Áñez as representative of Bolivia to explain to the international community the reasons for that crisis in 2019, which triggered the allegations of electoral fraud in the failed elections of that year that the Movement for Socialism (MAS) de Arce and Evo Morales have always denied and what they consider was a “coup d’etat.” The businessman Samuel Doria Medina, a former ally of Áñez, dedicated several messages on Twitter to criticize Arce, who in his opinion missed the opportunity to “convey hope to the Bolivian people” due to the pandemic and who actually gave “a plaintive speech “to” justify himself by blaming others. ” The common reaction of Áñez, Quiroga and Doria Medina has been the criticism of the way in which the Government of Arce has dealt with the pandemic, declaring itself opposed to the confinements or quarantines and basing its action on the massive tests and the arrival of vaccines against covid-19 to also take care of the economy. By contrast, former President Carlos Mesa, the main political contender for Morales and Arce in the general elections of 2019 and 2020, respectively, did not have an immediate reaction to the message from the Bolivian head of state. “I ask the people to strengthen social programs, defend economic policies and take care of our anti-imperialist ideological philosophical principles,” was one of the messages of former President Morales on Twitter, who did not attend the ceremony at the presidential headquarters and who was recently confirmed who suffers from covid-19. Precisely, the declaration of the Day of the Plurinational State is closely linked to Morales’ oath on January 22, 2006, when he assumed the Presidency of the country for the first time as the “first indigenous president.” This festive day in Bolivia took place with some restrictions due to the second wave of the pandemic, without Arce’s message being before the country’s Parliament and neither with the usual civic-military parade that happens, nor the folkloric festival that the government used to organize. (c) EFE Agency

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